Senator Sherwin Gatchalian


In an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Senator Win Gatchalian said Local Government Units (LGUs) are in a better position in tracking down asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 as the national government is set to adopt Valenzuela City’s mass testing procedure, which includes testing Persons Under Monitoring (PUMs).

On April 18, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles announced in a virtual presser that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has adopted “a national government enabled, local government unit-led, and people-centered response to the COVID-19 health event.”

This includes the approval of DOH guidelines that had been introduced on Monday, April 20 regarding the use of rapid antibody test kits, which detects the presence of antibodies in a patient who exhibits symptoms of COVID-19.

Nograles commended Valenzuela City for testing PUMs, adding that the national government will do the same.

In a statement on Tuesday, Gatchalian said testing asymptomatic carriers is crucial as they can spread the disease, citing that at least seven PUMs have tested positive for the virus in Valenzuela City.

“Sa mga susunod na araw, kailangang makita natin ang buong larawan sa bansa upang malaman natin ang mga susunod na hakbang sa pagsugpo ng COVID-19,” he added.

(In the coming days, we need to see the whole picture of the country in order to determine the next steps in combating the spread of COVID-19.)

Since both the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and LGUs head the contact tracing of individuals, the testing of PUMs will determine the isolation and treatment of patients, he added. Contact tracing was previously assigned to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

Individuals categorized as PUMs in the old classification of COVID-19 cases are those who do not exhibit symptoms but have travel history to areas with issued travel restrictions and exposure to known COVID-19 patients.

In the latest testing guidelines of the Department of Health (DOH), priority is given to patients and healthcare workers who have relevant travel history and exposure to known COVID-19 cases, mild or severe symptoms, and are considered vulnerable to the disease.

Vulnerable patients are those who are 60 years or older, immunocompromised, or have preexisting health conditions such as hypertension and diabetes. (Jillian Mikaela T. Lopez)